Presidential election runner-up Peter Casey’s audacious threat to set up a “new Fianna Fáil” if Micheál Martin blocks him from joining the party has led to Renua Ireland’s leader saying he “will not stand in the way” of him taking over his party.
Renua told the Irish Examiner of the offer to Mr Casey after the businessman’s demand to join Fianna Fáil was definitively rejected by TDs.
Speaking on RTÉ radio, Mr Casey said Fianna Fáil needs “somebody like Peter Casey to shake it up”.
He finished second in the presidential race after a series of divisive remarks about Travellers and people on welfare saw him surge from 1% in opinion polls to 23% in Friday’s election.
Championing himself as Fianna Fáil’s next leader by saying he could “reposition the party very quickly”, and that Mr Martin is only blocking him “because I want his job”, Mr Casey said the presidential race shows Fianna Fáil is out of touch with its grassroots.
Mr Casey said he could only accept being leader, because “if I was in charge I’d be able to speak my mind”.
He predicted he would “top the polls in Donegal”, and said the takeover would be in the interests of Fianna Fáil because, “if they keep going the way they’re going”, they will not realise “they’ve a problem” in the polls.
He was reminded that Fianna Fáil’s hierarchy rejected the proposal on Sunday, with a spokesperson saying “we will not be facilitating any personal crusade of his” and foreign affairs spokesman Niall Collins saying that the party is “full”.
Mr Casey hit back by claiming “it’s full of nonsense in the leadership”.
The claim was widely rejected yesterday, with a dozen Fianna Fáil TDs labelling it “laughable”, “comic-like”, and “a waste of time”, despite some concerns that Mr Martin’s leadership is out of touch with traditional Fianna Fáil voters.
However, Renua Ireland last night threw Mr Casey a lifeline, with its leader and sole elected public representative, councillor John Leahy, saying he “will not stand in the way” of Mr Casey taking the leadership from him and rebranding the party as “new Fianna Fáil”.
“I hope to be in touch with Peter in the coming days,” said Mr Leahy. “If he wants to join, he’s a process to go through to be elected to a public role, but if he does that and the membership wants him as leader, I will not stand in the way.”
Renua has just one councillor and a small voter base, but it shares Mr Casey’s views on several issues and would give him a platform on which to build. Mr Casey did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.